Accessing Resources in (city-wide) Networked Environments: Issues and alternatives
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Access to a common (communication) resource has been one of the fundamental problems in the various networking technologies that have emerged over the last half a century. Among those, the problem of accessing a common resource by distributed, non-communicating users (i.e., through an uncoordinated approach) has been a central one and has received wide attention since the appearance of the ALOHA approach. The lack of coordination brings some advantages or keeps complexity low, but it also incurs some cost in terms of resource capacity waste and reduced throughput. Recent advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have enabled the generation and dissemination of vast amounts of information that enhance awareness about the environment and its resources. While such resource awareness brings benefits, it also intensifies competition and results in potentially significant congestion penalties for the distributed users attempting to access such resources in uncoordinated fashion. After a brief review of the classical problem of accessing a common channel by distributed non-communicating users, the problem of accessing city-wide, distributed resources by non-communicating users will be presented through the case of the search for a (public) parking spot. The role of some informationthat can be available to the competing users will be discussed and optimal or “stable” solutions to this competition will be presented. In the sequel it will be discussed how ICT technologies can provide for some coordination in accessing such resources and also discuss significant side issues that emerge. Finally, a distributed, resource auctioning approach will be briefly presented as a means of bringing some coordination in the resource accessing problem and shifting the competition to the price arena.